Valve has introduced several updates to its guidelines for Steam game keys. Although the rules generally remain the same, there are some nuances that developers should be aware of.
The new rules and guidelines were announced last week and reflected on the Steam Keys page. Big thanks to Simon Carless and the GameDiscoverCo team, who not only spotted the update but highlighted the exact policy changes with the help of SteamDB’s SteamWorks Documentation project.
Here are the key takeaways:
- Valve now mentions a specific number of default release keys — “up to 5,000” — any developer can get at launch to share them with Steam users or distribute their game on other digital stores and platforms;
- There is no guarantee that Valve will provide devs with additional keys, as all requests after the 5,000 baseline are reviewed on a case-by-case basis;
- The number of so-called “beta package keys”, which are intended for small beta tests and pre-launch access for the press or influencers, is now limited to 2,500 — for larger scale tests, Valve recommends using the Steam Playtest feature;
- Valve updated the paragraph about selling games on other stores, adding a new phrase: “It is important that you don’t give Steam customers a worse deal than Steam Key purchasers”;
- Thus, the company emphasizes its stance on price parity, demanding that developers don’t sell their titles at lower prices than on Steam;
- Here is what Valve has to say about reviewing Steam key requests: “We typically [look at] the level of customer interest on Steam, the total number of keys that have been issued and activated for the game and the additional number that are being requested”;
- All imbalanced requests, such as when a game “with a few hundred units of lifetime sales requesting tens of thousands of keys,” can be rejected;
- “If you request an extreme number of keys and you are not offering Steam customers a comparable deal, or if your sole business is selling Steam Keys and not offering value to Steam customers, your request may be denied and you may lose the privilege to request keys,” a new phrase in the rules reads, implying that in some cases, devs may be prohibited from requesting keys.